Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Seattle SuperSonics En Route to Oklahoma City

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Seattle SuperSonics En Route to Oklahoma City

Article excerpt

As it turned out, a judge's decision was not required to settle the case between the city of Seattle and Clay Bennett and his Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA.

The team is on its way to Oklahoma City and the Ford Center.

Bennett and PBC settled on a deal to pay to $45 million and possibly $30 million more if Seattle does not get another NBA franchise. Seattle had rejected a $26.5 million offer to end the last two years of a lease in KeyArena.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman was to issue her decision at 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Instead, the court said the case had been settled and that details were to be disclosed by the parties involved.

Bennett, whose group bought the team in 2006, gave his response to the settlement during a press conference Wednesday night at the Skirvin Hilton.

Seattle leaders sued last fall in an effort to keep the team from moving here. A six-day trial ended last Thursday. During the trial Bennett said the team would lose $60 million during the two years.

"We made it ... congratulations," Bennett said Wednesday. "The NBA will be in Oklahoma City next season, playing their games." He said the operations would move downtown and that a site was yet to be determined.

Bennett said that in exchange for terminating the lease, the group will make a payment of $45 million to the city of Seattle.

"Then we have a contingent payment of $30 million to the city if the state Legislature in Washington approves funding for a new building or renovation of KeyArena," Bennett said. "If they do not do that, we do not owe the $30 million. If they do accomplish that, the city has five years in which to get another team. If they do not get a team, we owe the $30 million."

Bennett said the Howard Schultz lawsuit is still a factor.

"We will fight it vigorously and aggressively," he said. …

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